The Tufts Collaborates! seed grant program seeks to encourage the essential first steps in interdisciplinary collaboration by supporting new faculty pilot projects that engage at least two disciplines and cross institutional lines.  The goal of this program is to establish collaborative research efforts that will likely result in competitive research proposals to federal and foundation granting agencies.

Any Tufts faculty active in scholarship, research, and/or creative works with a primary appointment at a University school or unit is eligible to apply to Tufts Collaborates!. Seed grant awards are expected to range from $500 to $50,000. Funding decisions are through a peer review process including faculty and administrative staff, and based on several criteria, including degree of innovation and collaboration, potential for external funding, likelihood for sustainability and impact, and viability within departmental, school and/or programmatic frameworks.

The Office of the Provost is pleased to announce the projects that will be funded for the fourth round of the Tufts Collaborates! program. These projects will run during the 2014-2015 academic year and join the 62 previously awarded projects promoting interdisciplinary collaboration across Tufts University for years to come.  We thank the many faculty and staff who submitted excellent proposals, not only making the grant decisions particularly difficult, but also indicating the widespread commitment to collaborative research across Tufts.

Tufts Collaborates! Seed Grants for 2014-2015 Academic Year:

Tufts Collaborates! seed grants were awarded for 31 new projects, joining the 62 previously awarded projects promoting interdisciplinary collaboration across Tufts University for years to come. We thank the many faculty and staff who submitted excellent proposals, not only making the grant decisions particularly difficult, but also indicating the widespread commitment to collaborative research across Tufts.

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Fast by Design: Better Liquid Crystal Devices through Theory, Simulation and Experiment
Principal Investigator: Timothy Atherton
James Adler, Jeffrey Guasto, Chris Burke, David Emerson
Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering
Combining physical modeling, advanced numerical algorithms and high-speed microscopy imaging, this project aims to develop new design strategies for high performance liquid crystal devices

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Small Molecule Approaches for Promoting Cardiomyocyte Proliferation
Principal Investigator: Lauren Black
Michael Levin
Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering
The goal of this project is to determine small molecules that promote cardiomyocyte proliferation by altering resting membrane potential via modulation of specific ion channels

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Host-Parasite Interactions in Babesiosis
Principal Investigator: Athar Chishti
Edouard Vannier, Toshihiko Hanada
School of Medicine, Tufts Medical Center
Human babesiosis is a malaria-like illness caused by the infection of erythrocytes by Babesia, and this project will use phage display technology to identify novel ligand-receptor interactions

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Characterization of the Schistosome Polyamine Importer
Principal Investigator: Akram Da’darah
Daniel Cox
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Medicine
The goal of this project is to characterize a polyamine transporter, a potential therapeutic target for schistosomiasis, a major human parasitic disease

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Computational Population Model of Retinopathy of Prematurity
Principal Investigator: Olaf Dammann
Benjamin Hescott, Andrew Gallant, Ruan Durgham
School of Medicine, School of Engineering
The goal of this project is to develop a computational state transition population model of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) that we need to begin exploring inflammation-associated aspects of ROP etiology
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Clinical Validation of Coherent Hemodynamics Spectroscopy
Principal Investigator: Sergio Fantini
Daniel Weiner, Jana Kainerstorfer, Lily Chan
School of Engineering, Tufts Medical Center
The goal of this project is to build a diffuse correlation spectroscopy system for validation of coherent hemodynamics spectroscopy measurements of cerebral blood flow in hemodialysis patients
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Time Series Analysis of Multimodal Cardiovascular Data
Principal Investigator: Boris Hasselblatt
Michael Shapiro, Frederick Cobey, Stefan Ianchulev
Arts and Sciences, School of Medicine
The goal of this project is to develop mathematical algorithms and related software programs to analyze and quantify the complex dimension of cardiovascular signals such as blood pressure and heart rate
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Computational Analysis of Mechanical Forces in Epithelial Tissue Morphogenesis
Principal Investigator: Victor Hatini
Eric Miller, Brian Tracey
School of Medicine, School of Engineering
The goal of this project is to develop a computational image-based approach for quantitative analysis of tissue morphogenesis integrating measures of molecular and cellular dynamics
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Characterization of Novel Anti-Inflammatory Drugs for the Treatment of Neurological Disorders
Principal Investigator: Philip Haydon
John Iacomini
Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine
The goal of this project is to examine how a novel class of drugs mediates anti-inflammatory effects in neurological diseases by targeting P2Y purinoreceptors
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Heart Health for African American Women: A Multidisciplinary Approach
Principal Investigators: Linda Hudson and Sara Folta
Peniel Joseph, Lionel McPherson
School of Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Arts and Science
The goal of this project is to gain enhanced understanding of cardiovascular disease risk factors among African American women, who have the highest CVD mortality rates among all U.S. adults
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Mapping Brain Circuit and Cellular Malfunction in Genetic Mouse Models of Autism
Principal Investigator: Michele Jacob
Leon Reijmers, Thomas Biederer, Antonella Pirone, Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Laura Schaevitz, Klaus Miczek
School of Medicine, Arts and Sciences
The goal of this project is to define convergent brain circuits and cell types that malfunction during autism-relevant behaviors in mouse models with human autism-linked gene deletions
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Guidance for Sustainable Diets
Principal Investigator: Hugh Joseph
Timothy Griffin, Christian Peters, Kate Clancy, Miriam Nelson, Julian Agyeman
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, School of Medicine
This project will create a Task Force to jumpstart a three-phase Guidance for Sustainable Diets policy initiative by compiling research, defining structural elements, and assembling a multi-disciplinary development committee
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A Novel Genetic Determinant of Susceptibility to Colonic Inflammation
Principal Investigator: John Leong
Edouard Vannier, Arlin Rogers
School of Medicine, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts Medical Center
The goal of this program is to test whether a risk locus for ulcerative colitis impairs acetylation of intestinal mucus and promotes the progression of experimental colitis
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The Peace and Conflict Archives at Tufts: Pilot Collection
Principal Investigator:  Dyan Mazurana
Bridget Conley-Zilkic, Eliot Wilczek, Patrick Florance, Christopher Barnett
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts Technology Services
The goal of this project is to create a pilot model and test the viability of a permanent Tufts archive for primary research data on peace and conflict
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NDY1/KDM2B in Bladder Cancer
Principal Investigator:  Elizabeth McNiel
Philip Tsichlis
Cummings of School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts Medical Center
The goal of this project is to develop a comparative approach to investigate the role and potential targeting of a histone demethylase, NDY1/KDM2B, in bladder cancer
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Integrated Food Security Intervention to Improve Under-Five Malnutrition in Rural Kenya: Feasibility of Characterizing Intestinal Infections and Microbiome as Intermediary Markers in Rural Settings
Principal Investigator: Mkaya Mwamburi
Will Masters, Joanne Lindenmayer, Janey Forrester, Christine Wanke, Jeffrey Griffiths, Carol Pineda-Rubiano, Gretchen Volpe, Honorine Ward, Sisay Simano, Asrat Dibaba
School of Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts Medical Center, World Vision Kenya
The goal of this project is to develop integrated food security intervention to improve under-five malnutrition in rural Kenya and to test feasibility of characterizing intestinal infections and microbiome as intermediary markers in rural settings
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Predicting and Validating Host-Pathway Compatibility for Synthetic Biology Applications
Principal Investigator: Nikhil Nair
Soha Hassoun, Sara Amr, Venkatesh Gopinarayanan
School of Engineering
The goal of this project is to develop and validate computational design tools to aid rapid development and enhance success rates of synthetic biological systems for biochemical and biomedical applications
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Transgenerational Effects of Stress on the Inflammatory Response System
Principal Investigator: Benjamin Nephew
Gillian Beamer
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
This project represents an investigation of chronic social stress, an ethologically relevant stressor, in maternal rats and their offspring as a model for stress-related immune disorders
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Music Education to Enhance Reading (METER)
Principal Investigator: Aniruddh Patel
Maryanne Wolf, Ola Ozernov-Palchik, Tinsley Galyean
Arts and Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The project aims to develop a rhythm-based training app to enhance auditory skills necessary for literacy acquisition, for domestic and international deployment in underserved communities
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Spectral Reflection of the Canine Tapetum: Relating Form to Function
Principal Investigator: Chris Pirie
Fiorenzo Omenetto
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Engineering
This study aims to evaluate the reflective characteristics of the canine tapetum and its role on visual performance
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Evaluation of a Novel Crop-Based Extractant for the Remediation of Oil and Tar Impacted Soils and Sediments
Principal Investigator:  Al Robbat
Kurt Pennell, Douglas Matson, Christian Zeigler, Nicholas Wilton, Torsten Johnson
Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering
This work will support an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers who will study the effectiveness of a plant-based protein mixture for cleaning oil and tar contaminated soils and sediment
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Engaging Dental Hygienists to Deliver Methamphetamine Prevention Programming: Formative Research to Guide Intervention Development
Principal Investigator:  Margie Skeer
Jennifer Towers, Ronald Perry
School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine
The objective of this project is the development of a social marketing campaign to integrate dental hygienists in the prevention of methamphetamine use initiation among Idaho adolescents to reduce meth-related morbidity/mortality
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The Role of Colonic Progenitor Cells in the Pathogenesis of Clostridium Difficile Infection (CDI)
Principal Investigator: Xingmin Sun
Andrew Hoffman, Saul Tzipori, Abraham Sonenshein
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Medicine
The goal of this project is to test the hypothesis that C. difficile toxins can directly target colonic progenitor cells, thus disrupting epithelia renewal and contributing to intestinal diseases in C. difficile infection
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Conceptualizing Design in Human and Robot Factors Engineering
Principal Investigator: Holly Taylor
Matthias Scheutz, William Messner
Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering
This project explores similarities and differences between how engineers conceptualize design solutions for people to use compared to ones for robots to use
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Assessment of Effect of Air Pollution on Early Vascular Aging and Blood Pressure in the PURSE-HIS Cohort
Principal Investigator:  Mohan Thanikachalam
John Durant, Doug Brugge
Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering
The study will assess the effect of high ambient concentrations of particles with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 micrometers and the impact of risk modifiers on early vascular aging and blood pressure
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Novel Photo-Responsive Water Filtration Membranes
Principal Investigator:  Samuel Thomas
Ayse Asatekin
School of Engineering, Arts and Sciences
This project merges networks of nanochannels with photocontrolled zwitterionic polymers for new membranes with light-responsive pore size for selective filtration and anti-fouling applications
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Genomic Analysis of Muscle-Tendon Formation for Tissue Engineering
Principal Investigator: Barry Trimmer
Catherine Kuo, Michael Doire
Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering
The goal of this project is to develop an insect tissue-based model system for muscle-tendon formation by identifying key factors (mechanical, cellular and genetic) that control muscle attachment
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A Pilot Study Linking Abandoned Buildings and Animal Health
Principal Investigator: Christopher Whittier
Justin Hollander, Felicia Nutter
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Arts and Sciences
This project will study the impacts of abandoned buildings on the health of animals, and consequently the health of people and broader ecological systems
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Self-Adjuvanting Carbohydrate Antigen-Based Vaccine
Principal Investigator: Henry Wortis
Clay Bennett, Andrew Camilli, Alexander Poltorak
School of Medicine, Arts and Sciences
We will link a carbohydrate antigen to an adjuvant to create a conjugate that evokes high affinity protective antibody to Streptococcus pneumoniae without inducing inflammation
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Optical Reconstruction of the Collagen Landscape for Understanding Early Osteoarthritis
Principal Investigator:  Li Zeng
Irene Georgakoudi
School of Medicine, School of Engineering
The goal of this project is to investigate changes in collagen architecture in articular cartilage during early osteoarthritis development through Second Harmonic Generation Imaging
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Developing an Innovative Online Weight Management Program for Childhood Cancer Survivors
Principal Investigator:  Fang Fang Zhang
Ethan Danahy, Michael Kelly, Susan Meagher, Sara Folta, Susan Roberts, Christina Economos
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, School of Engineering, School of Medicine, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging
This project aims to develop an innovative and effective online weight management program that meets the needs of the growing population of childhood cancer survivors
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Click here to view previous Tufts Collaborates! seed grants.